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Potter’s Traditional Dark Navy Rum

Review: Potter’s Traditional Dark Navy Rum 72.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published August,

According to Highwood DistillersPotter’s Traditional Dark Navy Rum is an imported Caribbean dark rum. I have been told that the rum is not an infant spirit, and based upon Canadian Law, all rum in Canada must be aged for at least one year in oak barrels. Apparently the rum was aged prior to importation; however, because Highwood stores the reserves in oak barrels in their aging warehouse, it would be true to say that some aging in Canada also occurs.

Potter’s Dark Navy Rum is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume, and is sold in a 750 ml glass bottle, or in 1.14 and 1.,75 litre plastic PET bottles. I was provided with a sample of the 750 ml glass bottle directly from the folks at Highwood for the purpose of this review.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Potter’s Traditional Navy Dark Rum arrives in the bottle shown to the left. This is a typical “bar room” style of bottle designed to be easy to hold, easy to pour, and easy to store on the bar shelf. I like that the bottle has some textured surface above and below the label as this makes the bottle easier to grip when it is wet. The label itself is much nicer than I typically have seen on Highwood products, it has a simple professionalism with colours and fonts that are easy to see and read. The back label of the bottle includes this comment:

Since you’re reading this you’re probably not on a tropical beach with warm ocean waters lapping at your feet, but don’t let it get you down. Instead, mix your favourite rum cocktail, sit back, have a drink, close your eyes, and enjoy the Caribbean.

I like the unpretentious nature of the comment. I think it adds to the presentation.

In the Glass  7.5/10

The rum has a real reddish copper tinge much like a once shiny penny which has just began to tarnish. The nose matches the colour, all molasses and caramel, old musty tobacco, ancient leather, liquorice, cinnamon and cloves. And like that bright penny which has just began to lose its shine, the aroma from the glass has something of tarnish to it as well.

Everything is (as the Trekkers would say) “slightly out of phase”. Each scent and smell is just a little different from what I expect it should be. This is neither bad nor good, it is just different and unexpected. This one is tough to score, but my impression is that the dark rum will almost certainly be a mixer, and that is where my score for “in the glass” squarely fits.

In the Mouth  43/60

The first sip brings strong impressions of molasses and caramel with strands of licorice and musty tobacco running right through the middle of the flavour. Some oak spices are apparent too, and they are mingling with that molasses and caramel giving me indications of maple, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar. However, just as it was on the nose, upon the palate, things are just a little ‘out of phase’. Even though the rum is full of flavour, it doesn’t quite work for me. This will sound odd, but the rum has a sort of grimy feel to it. As if this is the sort of rum you would find in those old taverns on the other side of the tracks. You know the type of place I am talking about; they clean the tables once a week and wash the floors once a month. The rum fits the atmosphere of those old taverns and bars where the establishment is likely to have that same tarnished/ grimy feel as the rum does.

So far, I haven’t talked much about mixing, and if this rum is to have a silver lining, it will be in the realm of the cocktail and the tiki drink. There is not much to do but to add cola to my sample glass as a starting place. So I do, and the result is rather mixed. That queer taint that this rum has demonstrated throughout the tasting sessions seems to tarnish even the rum and cola which now tastes more than a bit like maple syrup. Dark navy rums often work well in Tiki Drinks like the Mai Tai, and so that is what I construct next. This time (see recipe below) I am more satisfied, and perhaps even pleased. The tiki drink is definitely where I will be mixing this rum from now on.

In the Throat 11/15

The cloves and maple are really strong for me in the exit, and I find more heat in the finish than I would like. Thinking about it I decide that in that grimy old tavern I mentioned earlier, the patrons probably like that heat, and they probably tell each other that this rum puts a little fire into the belly. I am not as enthusiastic. I would prefer something smoother and cleaner in the finish.

The Afterburn  7/10

The Potter’s Traditional Navy Rum just wasn’t for me. I found the taste slightly strange and if I am honest, almost medicinal. As a sipper, the rum just doesn’t cut it, and as a mixer, it seems to leave its strange flavour imprint too firmly in the bar drink. My score of 72.5 indicates a rum I found rather mediocre. I would suggest that tiki drinks are the best way to go. I offer one below:

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Recipe

The Potter’s Mai Tai

1 oz light rum
1 oz Potter’s Traditional Dark Navy Rum
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Amaretto
dash Fees Cocktail Bitters
Large Ice Cubes

Lime Slice

Add the first five ingredients into a metal shaker with large ice cubes
Shake until the metal shaker chills
Pour the mixture from the metal shaker into a tall glass
Add ice-cubes to fill

Garnish with mint in the glass, and the slice of lime on the rim.



My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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